President’s page: Mirror, mirror on the wall …

By Sarah Nageotte

“You look so much younger in person,” someone said to me at a recent state convention. As any woman will admit, and possibly even men, too, that is one compliment I will never grow tired of hearing.

Age is a number. That number can define a person. In fact, numbers correlate to entire groups and generations. Unfortunately, those numbers and dates and generations have been known to bring stereotypes. For instance, three common stereotypes are: Baby boomers are out of sync with technology, Generation Xers are negative cynics, and Millennials aren’t motivated by anything and think only of themselves.

I can write an entire novel on examples that debunk these stereotypes on each level. On the flipside, I know stories that go to further these theories. But what is relevant in today’s society, and most important to our profession, is to look at each age, each number, and each individual separately.

We need to challenge the stereotypes and treat everyone as an individual. We need to find common ground and connect on the human level shared by all. We need to find the talents each of us have to offer and always assume that everyone has value and worth to contribute. We need to mingle with different generations and those who approach things differently than ourselves. At the same time, we need to expect a lot and hold everyone to the same standards for all of us to learn, grow, and perform to our highest and best abilities.

The success of a profession is dependent on the contributions from all within, and the court reporting and captioning profession is not unique in this regard. I am now in my 17th year as an official court reporter, and I am halfway through my term as NCRA President. I did not get here by myself, and I do not continue each day on this journey alone. I have an entire network of professionals, friends, and family whom I turn to daily.

My network consists of my coworkers at the courthouse, the judges I report for, my colleagues in the field, students striving to be a part of the greatest profession of all time, and my mom, dad, boyfriend, daughter, and family as a whole. I am surrounded by individuals that stereotypes would lead you to believe I cannot get along, much less work with. Instead, I have taken the challenge to throw stereotypes out the window and look past numbers and generations. I look at the person. What can I give to them? What can I learn and gain from them? How can we work together to make our lives better? I encourage each of you to do the same. What do you have to offer? How can you enrich the life of someone else? Is it through mentoring? Sharing your experiences? Offering your perspective?

Ronald Reagan stated, “Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.”

If we allow stereotypes to take hold of us, we will not go further, we will lose opportunities, and we will isolate ourselves from seeing true potential in one another. We should take the experience and history of what lies in the past to grow and move forward, and, yes, stand on the shoulders of those who preceded us. But we should always keep an open mind and be willing to accept that desired results can be accomplished through different means; and maybe, just maybe, someone in your network has an approach that is better than your own.

I am honored to be a part of our timeless — and ageless — profession. Whether you have been reporting one month or 50 years, you have the opportunity to network and continue to grow our profession. Mentor a court reporting student or new reporter entering the field. Reach out if you need guidance or assistance. Work together with your fellow court reporters and captioners. Learn from each other. Teach each other. Adapt to change. Grow and move forward together.

We should always recognize and be proud of the numbers we are assigned, the age we have attained, and the experiences and knowledge each of us possess. But please join me in challenging the stereotypes. Let us look at each person for who they are, and not which generation or number they carry. Start now and take one number — 2015 — and define 2015 as the year of you! You will make a difference for yourself and an entire profession!

Sarah E. Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, is NCRA’s President. She can be reached atpresident@ncra.org.

MEMBER PROFILE: Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR

Lisa Knight

Lisa Knight

Name: Lisa A. Knight

Currently resides in: Littleton, Colo.

Position: Freelance realtime reporter

Member since: 1984

Graduated from: Mile Hi College of Court Reporting

Theory: Brenner Shorthand

Favorite tip:

Don’t ever give up on your dreams! Find a way to make things happen for you. If you keep getting turned down, find another way. It may not be the exact path you thought you would take, but tenacity is more than half the battle. Set your goals high, and figure out ways to accomplish them.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. – Epictetus

Why did you decide to become a court reporter?

I decided I wanted to be a court reporter in 1982 – when I was a senior in high school – purely by dumb luck! I lived in a very small Colorado mountain town (my graduating class was only 108 people), and I was not exposed to the big city life, let alone television, so I really had no idea what a court reporter was let alone what their job entailed.

I was in the advanced typing class (because it was easy, and I was a lazy senior in high school and only wanted easy classes). The office procedures class next door was having a guest speaker from Mile Hi College of Court Reporting from Denver give a presentation about court reporting, and I was told I could attend (if I wanted to) because I had completed all my assignments. The presenter told us that, as a court reporter in Colorado, we could make up to $100,000 a year and tell a judge to shut up! Where do I sign up for that?

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

Working in South Africa. The first time, I was providing realtime services for a large asbestos case. I flew all over South Africa (Johannesburg, Capetown, Pretoria, and Durban) for four weeks to work. When I was done working, my husband joined me, and we went on safari in South Africa as well as Zimbabwe.

The second time, I was on a different realtime case (and only a week’s duration), but opposing counsel were a dream to work with! We traveled (by car, this time) to some rural cities, such as Knysna, South Africa. I ate some of the freshest seafood I have ever had in my life – and I got to see smaller villages and their townspeople than I ever would have otherwise.

What was your biggest hurdle as a newbie, and how did you overcome it?

Experience! I was only 19 years old when I graduated court reporting school, and no one would hire me because I lacked experience I graduated with a 4.0 in record time – one year and five months – and still, no one would hire me.

So I decided to create my own experience. I substituted in court every opportunity I could, while still holding the part-time office job I had while attending school. I needed to get the experience and network as much as I could if I was to ever realize that dream job of being an official court reporter one day! My hard work paid off, and I was offered two jobs only a year-and-a-half later.

What surprised you about your career and why?

I didn’t realize that court reporting could be so much fun. I absolutely love my job – even after 30 years! I get to meet the most interesting people and work in some of the most amazing cities in the world, not to mention eating the most delicious food or tasty libations! Every day is something brand new, so I’m never bored.

 

The nation is Taking Note

NCRA’s publicity campaign garners widespread attention.

 By Christina Lewellen

In September, NCRA launched what is easily the most comprehensive publicity campaign the association has ever waged on behalf of the stenographic court reporting and captioning profession. Armed with an independently produced research report that calls for a wave of new opportunities in five short years, the association’s Take Note campaign combined clever paid marketing opportunities with difficult-to-secure public relations efforts to shift the public’s perception of the future of the profession.

The results, to date, have been impressive. Though the year-long campaign is still in its early phases, the nationwide attention has been notable. On the heels of the Wall Street Journal’s August coverage of NCRA’s speed and realtime contests in San Francisco, the remainder of 2014 was marked with some significant media hits, resulting in millions of awareness impressions across the country. In plain speak, this means that more people than ever before have court reporting and captioning on their radar as a profession worth considering.

PUBLIC RELATIONS SUCCESSES

While articles and television spots can never be guaranteed, public relations is a powerful component of the Take Note campaign. Not only is media coverage free of charge, but readers and viewers consider editorial information more credible than paid advertisements.

Working closely with an award-winning public relations firm, NCRA has issued a series of press releases and media alerts touting the messaging of the Take Note campaign (for more background on the campaign, see the article in the September 2014 issue of the JCR). These message points include the new job opportunities that will increase in a few short years, the flexibility and earning potential that the field offers, and the ways in which stenographic court reporters serve the community at large. Clearly, the key points are resonating with the media, as NCRA was featured on the number one rated morning show, Fox and Friends, in early October on the network’s “On the Job Hunt” segment. The report highlighted various venues in which stenographic reporters can work and noted that starting salaries often rival other professions that require a four-year degree. In November, CNBC aired a story in its career segment showcasing court reporting as a career and highlighting the coming need for qualified candidates to fill jobs over the next five years. The story featured NCRA President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC; NCRA member and student Katherine Schilling; and Margaret Ortiz, CRI, director of the West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., discussing the benefits of the profession including potential earnings, flexible benefits, travel opportunities, and court reporting programs. A similar segment ran as part of CNBC’s Nightly Business Report.

Other articles highlighting the positive aspects of court reporting as a profession have recently run in California’s Daily Breeze and San Gabriel’s Valley Tribune. The Chicago Sun Times and its affiliates profiled the profession and posted online a supplemental video featuring Chicago-area professionals.

The association continues to work closely with other national media outlets that demonstrated interest in the Take Note story. The next phase of the public relations effort includes reaching out to more regional media outlets, particularly those in the states projecting the greatest demand (California, Texas, Illinois, and New York).

INNOVATIVE PLACEMENT

In addition to public relations efforts, the Take Note campaign features a disciplined paid media campaign. NCRA certainly doesn’t have a budget akin to Target or Apple, so it’s important to invest the limited pool of advertising dollars in venues that prove to have viable results.

One avenue for this targeted approach is the American School Counselors Association’s magazine. The full-page ad touting court reporting as a career lands right in the middle of this audience’s field of vision on a monthly basis, raising the awareness that school counselors have about opportunities in the profession.

The campaign also targets potential students directly with a series of tried-and-true Google ads and Facebook ads. From September through November alone, the Take Note campaign was displayed in these venues approximately 12 million times, and more than 27,000 people visited crTakeNote.com to learn more about the messaging of the advertisements.

Since the launch of the campaign last fall, hundreds of leads have funneled through the site to NCRA certified and participating court reporting programs. The goal, over the course of the campaign, is to see enrollment increase in court reporting programs across the country.

 #StenoTweets

One of the more innovative components of the Take Note campaign is the #StenoTweets outreach on Twitter. Plenty of folks in the profession do not begin to profess an understanding of Twitter, but it’s hard to argue that Twitter is where the next generation of court reporters and captioners are having meaningful conversations. With that in mind, NCRA launched #StenoTweets, an aspect of the Take Note campaign that allows the social media team to have one-on-one conversations with young people who are struggling with career-related decisions.

In a nutshell, the social media team on the Take Note campaign is actively researching tweets and monitoring Twitter activity surrounding those who indicate they are searching for a job or dealing with college and/or career selection issues. If, for example, a Twitter user tweets something like “Why is choosing a career so difficult?” or “I hate that you’ve basically got to start choosing your career path from the age of like 17-18. I change my mind so many times,” the social media team has a response strategy to communicate directly with potential students.

Working in conjunction with NCRA president Sarah Nageotte, custom responses combining both steno and its English translation encourage students to consider court reporting as they weigh these career-related decisions (see example).

While the social media strategists certainly can’t respond to all Twitter users, the #StenoTweets campaign features more than 15 canned responses that work in a variety of conversational scenarios to point would-be students toward crTakeNote.com.  This type of direct conversation resonates with younger audiences and may capture the attention of those who aren’t aware of the opportunities in the stenographic court reporting space.

NEXT STEPS

As the holiday season came and went at the end of 2014, the Take Note campaign conserved its resources (it’s pretty difficult to get anyone’s attention amid the shopping frenzy, even for those companies and organizations with millions of dollars available for advertising). Now, with the buzz surrounding the 2015 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and students gearing up to make decisions about their post-high-school life, the Take Note campaign is ramping back up with its targeted placement strategy.

In addition to the relentless pursuit of regional media coverage, the campaign will continue to focus on social media engagement and targeted print and online ads. Publicity-worthy events, presentations, and other resources are also in the works, so stay tuned to crTakeNote.com and TheJCR.com for more information as the campaign unfolds.

Christina Lewellen is NCRA’s Senior Director of Marketing and Communications. She can be reached at clewellen@ncra.org.

 

 

Connecting your client to realtime – overcome the fear factor!

For those of you who have decided against providing realtime to your clients because of the added pressure of troubleshooting, fear no more!

By Sandy VanderPol

Connect client to realtimeDon’t be overcome by the fear factor of troubleshooting your realtime connections. The good news is that with the various options now available to output your realtime, the vendors updating their receive software, and the resources now available for troubleshooting, it’s a breeze to have an almost 100 percent connection success.

Over the past few years, and certainly over the last year, our realtime vendors have created an environment that provides success in realtime connections. With the various options available to output your realtime, you get to make the choice: cables, Bluetooth, WiFi Remote (called a WAN), or WiFi Local (called a LAN).

More good news! Realtime receive vendors now make it easy to detect which COM port your realtime is feeding through to your client. The Windows Device Manager, a necessity to know and understand thoroughly, is now replaced with the smart software. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how to maneuver your way through Windows and get to the Device Manager. It means that less often will you need to troubleshoot the COM port settings. News of this update alone should alleviate most everyone’s fear of providing realtime.

Every court reporter should now have the resources to access the information to be confident in connecting clients to realtime 100 percent of the time.

One such resource is the Realtime Troubleshooting Pocket Guide, Version 2, which has step-by-step directions to successfully hook up to any receive software, whether you are using the Windows XP, 7, or 8 operating system. You can buy this valuable resource in the NCRA Store.

Another valuable resource available to educate yourself on troubleshooting realtime:  the Realtime Systems Administrators Workshop and Exam. The workshop delves into the troubleshooting basics of cable to WiFi connections and realtime setups. The workshop takes place at NCRA’s TechCon and the Annual Convention & Expo. Make the personal commitment – sign up now!

Be confident in your realtime troubleshooting skills. Take advantage of the many resources and opportunities available to you to reach your potential and become the most important person in the courtroom or deposition:  a proficient realtime reporter who has the education and resources to connect 100 percent of the time!

Sandy VanderPol, RMR, CRR, who is also a Realtime Systems Administrator, is a freelance reporter in Lotus, Calif., and a member of the Realtime Systems Administrator Certificate Committee. She can be reached at realtimecsr@calweb.com.

The Realtime Systems Administrator Workshop and Exam is offered at NCRA’s TechCon and the NCRA Convention & Expo.

STUDENT REPORTING: The impact mentoring can have on court reporting students

By Ahlam Alhadi

As a current student, I have had the good fortune of being mentored by numerous credentialed court reporters, from officials working for the superior court to freelancers working for reporting firms. I have found the advice and positive reinforcement to be the most beneficial aspects of interning, given the competitive nature of court reporting. This profession has its perks, but it also has high expectations. Attaining a 95 percent on the Registered Professional Reporter exam and a 97.5 percent on the Certified Shorthand Reporter exam is a difficult and daunting task, so it helps to be surrounded by individuals who encourage you to look on the bright side.

During my internship, I was privileged enough to shadow many seasoned officials, each of whom had gone out of their way to give me as much advice, knowledge, and positive reinforcement as possible. I was taught various software applications, including how to distinguish between multiple speakers as well as different software commands. We discussed different ways to stay organized and how to report during a jury selection. Many officials would spend their breaks advising me and would even take me back to their offices to meet other reporters and judges. I felt as though every court reporter I shadowed was taking me under her wing, and each of them had great advice and pieces of knowledge for me. I was so surprised by their willingness to help. I was so appreciative. It wasn’t until then that I realized how important it is to have a mentor and to be among those who have gone through this process and have come out of it and achieved success. One official told me that the hardest part about being a student is that there are times when you become so discouraged and stressed that your negative thoughts often cloud your mind and affect your performance. She assured me that I was doing very well and told me the best thing to do is to stop worrying, continue to do my work, and stick with my schedule. I think of that piece of advice daily as I try to limit my stress and frustration.

Many of the freelancers who I have met have been just as supportive and encouraging. A friend of mine who works for a reporting firm is always there for me when I have a question or a concern. If I text her a brief question, she will respond with a lengthy message or a long phone conversation, and she is always able to give me very beneficial information. She suggests helpful books to purchase, and she stresses the importance of speedbuilding. Not only that, but she is always telling me to stay positive because I am so close to becoming a court reporter, and she reminds me to work very hard and stay persistent.

My court reporting instructor has been great at addressing my areas of strength and weakness in a way that is both constructive and encouraging rather than disparaging. In fact, her critiques often alleviate my stress because they give me the opportunity to focus on very specific areas that need more attention. I know that she will always provide me with information that will allow me to make necessary changes. A discussion with her fills me with such relief as she reminds me of all the strides that I have made in my speedbuilding.

In particular, my aunt, who is a freelance reporter, has been a wonderful mentor to me. She has given me so many of her briefs and textbooks that once helped her as a student. She never hesitates to take the time out of her busy schedule to meet with me and see how I am progressing in my work. When my writer suddenly needed to be repaired, she lent me her student writer in a moment’s notice. She is always giving me great advice in regard to which reporting firms to work for, when to intern, and how to make better use of my practice time. Not only that, but she has been very open about her past experiences as a student and has not been shy about telling me how difficult and discouraging being a court reporting student can be. She has told me that many students worry about the length of time it will take them to finish school and get their credentials, and many think about whether or not it will all be worth it. She assures me that these are all normal feelings to have, and that with time, all the hard work will surely pay off. For a student to hear that is an enormous relief. It is great to know that many reporters have felt discouraged at one time or another, but they were ultimately able to achieve their goals and are very happy in this respected profession.

Knowing that these successful men and women have gone through what I am currently enduring really puts me at ease. I feel lucky to have had such amazing experiences with these reporters. I believe that every student needs to have a reporter or reporters who can mentor and guide them. It can really change your outlook and push you to achieve.

Ahlam Alhadi is a court reporting student. She can be reached at ahlam513@gmail.com.

 

 

New Markets Task Force discovers new realtime opportunities

NewMarketsThe New Markets Task Force has identified a significant opportunity for NCRA members to deliver realtime court reporting services in the legal, health care, and financial industries. Over the past several months, New Markets Task Force Chair Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS, of Washington, D.C., and NCRA Immediate Past President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, of Worcester, Mass., have worked with Donita Bourns Douglas, vice president of client success for InReach, a leading provider of continuing education management solutions headquartered in Austin, Texas. The company is the first and most widely used solution for bringing accredited continuing education online. In addition, InReach Continuing Education Solutions technology, services, and experience have helped hundreds of organizations, including bar and medical associations in Florida, California, Texas, and Ohio, expand their continuing professional education programs beyond in-person events. In fact, InReach, which also partners with NCRA to provide a third-party platform for hosting its learning catalog, has the capacity to reach three-quarters of the legal professionals in the nation.

Douglas works closely with InReach clients to improve the overall quality of their online educational offerings, including the design of course curriculum and the marketing of educational courses. This year, the company is focused on making its online education platform accessible to end users who are deaf and hard of hearing, with the use of realtime captioning for live webcast events. This lofty goal is quite timely given the fact that this year will likely see an overhaul of the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning many InReach clients will be required to meet certain accessibility mandates while other clients may want to provide realtime captioning services simply because it makes good business sense to do so. In addition, since many state bar associations are viewed as quasi state agencies and as an arm of the court, their rules and regulations regarding accessibility may even be under greater scrutiny.

To meet this challenge, Douglas on behalf of InReach reached out to NCRA and the New Markets Task Force with a request to support their groundbreaking efforts by linking realtime court reporters with InReach’s clients nationwide. Information about NCRA and live event captioning will be made available to InReach clients.

“InReach is excited to partner with NCRA to provide unprecedented member access to its programs,” said Douglas. “Being able to connect our clients with NCRA members to provide captioning is the final, and so very critical, step in making this dream a reality.”

NCRA members who hold the Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Broadcast Captioner, or Certified CART Provider certifications and want to be considered by InReach for any available opportunities should contact Annemarie Roketenetz, NCRA’s Assistant Director of Communications, at aroketenetz@ncra.org. All qualified applicants will be included on a list that will be continuously updated and compiled on behalf of InReach.

New Markets Task Force hosts firm owners’ roundtable

The New Markets Task Force replaced its regular monthly meeting in October with a roundtable discussion held at the 2014 STAR Convention in San Diego. A special thanks to Christine Randall and STAR for providing the meeting room space and breakfast at no charge. Approximately a dozen firm owners from around the country joined several New Markets Task Force members in a discussion that led to a number of innovative ideas for expanding services, as well as sharing information about new business models already proving to be successful. Below is a brief roundup of the highlights of the discussion.

Board room rentals

Several firms reported that renting board rooms in their facilities has proven to provide a more economical option for groups seeking a neutral meeting place. The rental rooms provide space for such groups as unions holding management meetings and mediators for family law and personal injury cases. The key selling points are: 1) they are more affordable than a hotel or executive office space; 2) they offer food and beverage service; and 3) they are more flexible and/or have lower cancellation fees. This added service has also been successful in generating referrals from the participants.

Coordinating services for a charge

Some court reporting firms have begun offering services that coordinate a mutually convenient date and time for parties involved in mediations, arbitrations, or depositions after recognizing that attorneys often become frustrated with the time demands involved in trying to coordinate such meetings themselves. Using a court reporting firm for this service often increases cooperation among parties since the scheduling is being administered by a neutral party. The result has been a reduction in cancellations and an increase in new business.

Some firms have also begun reaching out to expert witnesses who frequently testify, offering the use of their space for depositions either in person or via videoconference or mobile videoconference. The expert witnesses benefit from the consistency and continuity of working with the same agency and a favorite court reporter. The law firms save time related to finding a qualified court reporter and location and save money when alternative solutions are offered to attend remotely. Firms offering these services have reported an increase in the number of depositions being taken within their facilities.

Videotaping and transcribing

One firm reported that it is working with its local state bar association to videotape and transcribe the oral veterans histories of its attorney members. The cost for the videos and transcripts are paid for by the state bar association, which funds the effort through donations made by members. The videos and transcripts are then housed in the law library.

All roundtable participants agreed that providing videotaping and transcription services in areas outside of the traditional legal arena offered a huge potential new market with unlimited opportunities.

Another firm reported that it has partnered with parents of children who are hard of hearing and advocate for CART and/or captioning services and suggested it might be advantageous to reach out to attorneys who represent members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to offer such services.

Other potential areas of opportunities:

  • Reporting on conventions and corporate board meetings
  • Reaching out to local convention centers to identify which organizations are scheduled to hold events
  • Contacting sporting venues to offer captioning of public service announcements and rulings by officials on the field
  • Captioning gala and charitable events or country club meetings and events at hotels for attendees who are deaf and hard of hearing
  • Contacting state bar associations and other organizations to offer CART and/or captioning services for online continuing education for the benefit of members who are deaf and hard of hearing
  • Videotaping continuing education seminars and providing transcriptions to other industries, such as accounting, science, technology, architecture, and even roundtable discussions

Other issues discussed

Participants in the New Markets roundtable also discussed the issue of billing methods and noted that when working with clients outside of the traditional legal arena, a flat-fee formula might be more agreeable since these types of clients are less likely to understand billing by the page as related to transcripts. It was also noted that for many new clients, knowing the cost up front provides some level of comfort.

Roundtable participants also agreed that to help set the stage for success when entering into a nontraditional area, guidelines should be established beforehand, including requesting the presenter’s comments prior to the assignment and establishing guidelines for the speakers or moderators to ensure the reporter can accurately capture what is said.

About the New Markets Task Force

NCRA’s New Markets Task Force was established by NCRA’s 2013-2014 President Nancy Varallo. The group’s charges include establishing goals and objectives to identify new and underserved markets that offer potential opportunities for the court reporting and legal videography segments of the profession to provide services. As part of the charge, the task force hosted a session at NCRA’s 2014 Firm Owners Executive Conference to explore new opportunities and is currently working with two graduate-level intern students to conduct market research and analysis related to potential new markets. The findings of the research are expected to be released later this year. The task force is also working to develop new resources designed to allow NCRA’s membership segments to better position themselves or better market themselves on a local and national basis to consumers of their services.

Members of the New Markets Task Force include:

Chair

Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS, Washington, D.C.

Members

Adam Friend, Livingston, NJ

Pat Graves, RDR, CRR, CCP, Monument, CO

Adam Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, Middletown, DE

Dax Parise, CLVS, Pittsburgh, PA

Christine Randall, RPR, Bakersfield, CA

Teresa Rider, RPR, CRR, Vancouver, WA

Cregg Seymour, Baltimore, MD

Kim Tindall, RPR, San Antonio, TX

Bill Weber, RDR, CRR, Bethel Park, PA

Board liaisons

Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, Worcester, MA

Rick Levy, RPR, Miami, FL

PERSONAL MARKETING: Getting the most out of LinkedIn

By Sara L. Wood

LinkedIn has become the premier place for people to improve their careers. No matter what part of the profession you are in, you can use LinkedIn as a tool to get ahead. However, some LinkedIn profiles are more successful than others. As you position yourself for success, here are six tips for optimizing your personal profile.

1) Showcase your certifications. You can do this two ways. First, make sure your certifications are listed after your name in your title. Even if your potential clients don’t understand what your credentials mean at first glance, certifications can add credibility to your profile. Next, explain what those certifications mean in the body of your resume. Other members of NCRA will know what they mean, but those outside of the profession may not. You worked hard to earn your certifications, so make sure you do everything you can help your clients understand the value you bring as a certified professional.

2) Set up your profile to get better endorsements. While you’ve been browsing LinkedIn, you may have seen the option to endorse others. Other people may have even endorsed you. If you have not yet used this tool, here’s how it works. The LinkedIn algorithm will automatically start suggesting endorsements on your behalf to your network based upon the skills you have listed in your profile. This means that you should begin by listing all of the skills you want others to see when they get suggested endorsement options. Here are some skills to get you started: speed, public speaking, management, videography, realtime, and CART captioning, to name a few. If you are stumped for what to list, take a look at some of your colleague’s profiles for ideas.

3) Increase your number of endorsements. The principle of reciprocity can often apply to endorsements. If you endorse others, they will be more likely to endorse you. To start building up your endorsements and make them count, take some time and endorse those who deserve your accolades. These endorsements should be sincere. Remember that when you are saying that someone else has a skill, you are publicly laying your reputation on this assessment. That said, giving honest endorsements may not only encourage others to endorse you, but it can also help build your social capital with other people on LinkedIn.

4) Assess the quality of your endorsements. As people begin to endorse you, they will have the option of writing in skills that you didn’t necessarily include in your profile. This can be both a positive and a negative. On the plus side, someone might acknowledge you for a skill you never considered. However, conversely, someone in your network may endorse you for a skill you don’t have. If you start to see skills rising to the top of your list that you don’t want to see, reach out to people you know and ask them to endorse you for the skills you would prefer to see at the top.

5) Update your resume, and connect with new contacts. It’s tempting to let your LinkedIn profile languish, but you never know which connections will get you more work. It’s critical to keep your resume fresh, and stay in touch with new connections. When you are out on a job, and if it’s appropriate and ethical to do so, collect business cards. (You may want to check with the firms you work for to be sure you understand the firm’s policy before approaching attorney clients.) If you have a connection, you can follow up with those people after the job on LinkedIn.  Also, don’t just send the standard template connection request. Use a personalized, genuine message when you reach out, and the person will be more likely to remember you.

6) Use a professional headshot. Or at least use one that looks professional. This is the first image that people will see when they come to your profile, and it will set the tone of your personal brand for the rest of their experience on your page. If you have that great photo of you in a bikini on the beach, you will want to think about the message that image communicates to your audience.  While it may be a fantastic picture, it may not convey your professionalism as a court reporter. Personal photos are best left for places like Facebook; again, unless that is the brand you intend to convey. If you have it in your budget, invest in headshots. Depending upon your area, they can range from the low- to mid-hundreds. Larger cities can be higher, so shop around. If you can’t afford the expenditure, put on your nicest business outfit, stand in front of a neutral background, and have someone take your photo. If you want to get a bit more in-depth, Google “how to take your own headshot,” and there are many professional photographers who can give you tips.

Sara L. Wood is NCRA’s Director of Membership & Marketing. She can be reached at swood@ncra.org.